Eden launches £1m challenge

UK venture capital firm Eden Ventures has teamed up with enterprise software company salesforce.com to find the next generation of online software.

Early-stage companies will compete for prize of up to £1m, in the form of an investment from Eden, which launched the Force.com Investment Challenge in May. Winners will be announced in November at Dreamforce 2008, salesforce.com’s user and developer conference.

Participants will be required to build an application that works on the Force.com development platform, a software platform developed by salesforce.com. The aim is to produce a company that meets the growing demand for the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which is driven by more and more businesses using the web and web-based applications to run their IT infrastructure.

Mark Farmer, general partner at Eden, said: “This challenge is a first for a venture capitalist in the UK and it is an indication of how pervasive we believe the ‘software as a service’ model will become. The days of visiting your local PC store to buy boxed software or having the IT guy visit your desk with a disk are coming to an end, as web-based applications, remote storage and software downloads prosper.”

The software as a service market is growing at a compound rate of more than 40% per annum and already accounts for an estimated 25% of the enterprise software market.

The challenge will work with Eden reviewing each of the candidates, be they entrepreneurs or early stage companies, and salesforce.com will provide background and assist in due diligence, as well as providing design, packaging, distribution and marketing support. Eden and salesforce.com will meet regularly to review applications and companies that meet the criteria.